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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. David Jeremiah » David Jeremiah - Keep the Faith (Interview)

David Jeremiah - Keep the Faith (Interview)

David Jeremiah - Keep the Faith (Interview)

Sheila Walsh: You've heard the saying, "Keep the faith," but what does that mean for us as Christians? Hello, I'm Sheila Walsh, and I'm so excited about what we're going to be learning today. Dr. Jeremiah is here to share with us what it means to keep the faith even in the most difficult circumstances and seasons. You know, maybe you're watching, today, and you're dealing with unexpected or unwanted circumstances. Could be problems with your health, your career, your marriage, perhaps your heart, you're discouraged, depressed, worried, and wondering if you even have the strength to keep going. If you've been in that place or are in that place right now, Dr. Jeremiah would like you to know that your heavenly Father isn't watching impassively from heaven, he has come down, he is close, and his arm is around you. He's here to lift you up and ready to move you forward. Well, Dr. Jeremiah exemplifies what he preaches and he has experienced adversity himself, and today, he's here to encourage us to keep the faith. What a total joy it is to be with you again.

Dr. David Jeremiah: Well, thank you, I'm glad I'm here, I'm glad to be here.

Sheila Walsh: I'm glad you are too. So, we're talking about keeping the faith. You've written this wonderful book, but I want you to take us to that day, September the 3rd, 2023. It's Labor Day, what was going on?

Dr. David Jeremiah: Well, Donna and I had just returned from Europe, we had gone there to celebrate our 60th wedding anniversary, and we took a little cruise around Italy, it was so much fun. We'd come home, obviously we were a little tired, I had preached a couple of times. And Labor Day morning, I went to get out of bed and I couldn't move anything on my right side, my leg was just dead. I was scared, I didn't know what to think. I told Donna, "I can't get out of bed, I don't know what to do". So, we called my son David, and he had Bradley with him, and they came down and helped me get up and took me to Scripps Hospital in La Jolla. And I ended up staying there for over a month and was diagnosed with a disease, from what I can understand, Sheila, it's the inflammation of the sheath that goes around your spinal cord.

Sheila Walsh: Oh, that's scary stuff.

Dr. David Jeremiah: And it makes it impossible, then, for your spinal cord to transmit signals to certain parts of your body. The second day, on Tuesday, after this happened, I'll never forget, I had four MRIs in one day, through my whole body. Then they punctured my spine and took some fluid from that. They gave me a scan, and then basically said, the best they could tell, I had this disease. It's very rare. The longer I've had it, the more I realized not very many people know much about it. What I'm learning is it had a short on-ramp and it's got a long off-ramp.

Sheila Walsh: So, what did the process of healing look like for you?

Dr. David Jeremiah: Well, the first thing that they told me was I needed to try to walk and I started to walk the best I could. And actually, we're sitting in a room, right now, that's in a building where I would come every day and walk in the warehouse, walk as much as I can with a walker to try to rebuild the strength in my legs. I got to the point where I was able to be ambulatory. Some of the systems in your body don't work and you have to try to get them back, and it was, many times, just on the edge of discouragement, you know? "I've been working at this, now, for months, what's going on here"?

Sheila Walsh: So, how are you feeling today, right now? I mean, to see you walk in, and to see you today, how are you feeling today?

Dr. David Jeremiah: Well, the first thing I'm feeling good about is I've been preaching in my church, now, for a couple of months, three services every weekend, and God has given me the energy to do that, and it's been such a blessing, because that's the joy of my life. I'm trying to stay up. I mean, there's lots of doctors appointments, I have to go see a rehab guy twice a week, and I work with my trainer in trying to build strength in your upper body. But God has given me some tremendous friends, some wonderful friends who hung in there with me and helped me do this.

Sheila Walsh: I think one of the things we all love about you is that we see you as a strong, godly pastor, committed to the unchanging Word of God in ever-changing times, and yet you're honest enough to be transparent about when it's really hard.

Dr. David Jeremiah: Let me tell you something I read, written by Spurgeon, here's what he said, "God never puts heavy burdens on weak shoulders". And I took that as a compliment, that God had trusted me with this. I didn't have to have this, God could have kept me from it. People asked me if I was upset and, you know, I said, "You know, God is not unfair to me, he doesn't owe me a perfect, healthy life". And I'm learning things from this. Believe it or not, so many wonderful things happened while this was happening to me, it was kind of hard to believe.

Sheila Walsh: I wondered. Obviously, you know, Barry and I, my husband and I, love you so much and we were praying for you. Could you feel the prayers of thousands, probably millions, around the world?

Dr. David Jeremiah: Yeah, yeah, I got prayer calls from people all over the world, and I knew people were praying for me. When you are a Christian and you go through something like this, the one major thing you realize, if you think about it, is you're not alone. I never felt alone, even in the hospital at three o'clock in the morning when there was no nurses around or anybody, I felt the presence of the Lord and I remembered verses of scripture that I had memorized. I was kind of in the process of trying to memorize the Book of Philippians, and I was kind of about halfway through it, so I was rehearsing that, and that just gave me such hope and confidence.

Sheila Walsh: It's interesting that we would be that book, a book dripping in joy while he's in prison and experiencing all sorts of adversity.

Dr. David Jeremiah: Yeah, Paul made me feel like I wasn't doing anything, you know? He was really in a bad way.

Sheila Walsh: You know, one of the things you kind of briefly touched on is, with everything you were going through, amazing things were happening at "Turning Point".

Dr. David Jeremiah: Yeah, I felt like God said to me one day, "Okay, David, you show me what you can do, let me show you what I can do". I had written a book called "The Great Disappearance," and that book shot to the top of all the charts, yeah. I've never had a book that made it to the top 10 on "Amazon," and stayed there for many days. And that book, because of the incredible social media things that our team did here, and the videos they created.

Dr. David Jeremiah: We had hundreds and hundreds of people accept Christ because of the book and the videos, and we aren't really sure how many, but many, many. We sent out so many copies of our follow-up book. And so, here I am feeling kind of useless and being used in a way I never could have dreamed through that book, and then we had the movie.

Sheila Walsh: Oh, yes.

Dr. David Jeremiah: The movie came out, during that season, in other languages.

Dr. David Jeremiah: In India, in Telugu, and Hindi, touched the whole nation. And Sheila, 275 million people watched that film in India.

Sheila Walsh: That gives me chills.

Dr. David Jeremiah: But God used that movie and many people came to Christ with the movie, it just seemed like, "I'm in the back room and I can't do a lot," and God is just moving. So, you know, looking back, it wasn't a bad time, it was just a hard time.

Sheila Walsh: Stay tuned, we'll be right back to talk more about what it means to keep the faith even in difficult times.

Sheila Walsh: Welcome back, I'm Sheila Walsh, I'm here with Dr. David Jeremiah to discuss how we can keep the faith when our world turns upside down. What did that feel like, the first Sunday that you were back in the pulpit?

Dr. David Jeremiah: Well, you know, I had to walk across the stage with a walker, it was so humbling, and but I did it and I got through it, and I never fell down. I always thought, you know, the the only thing left for me to do is for me to fall down in front of all these people, and I even hesitate to say it, because I still have some more walking across the platform. But the day I didn't have to use the walker anymore and I walked to the pulpit without it. I got a standing ovation. It was so encouraging to me to know how much the people in our church had been pulling for me, it's been a really interesting journey. I have a lot of issues I'm still dealing with, but I kind of look at it this way, all those issues are in a car and the whole car is moving forward. Some of these things I have to keep working on, but the car's moving forward, I am getting better, a little better all the time, and getting stronger, and still fighting some of the issues.

Sheila Walsh: But what a gift you gave to everyone that day, it was like a physical example, a God's show-and-tell of, "My strength is made perfect in weakness". You could have stayed off the platform, but you didn't do that.

Dr. David Jeremiah: You don't need your legs to preach, I could still teach, and the guys built me a pulpit seat that looks like I'm standing up almost. My wife thinks, she says, "You're a lot better sitting down, it's like you're giving a fireside chat". I said, "Well, people are getting saved every week". It's just amazing to see how in the midst of weakness, God is strong.

Sheila Walsh: Absolutely. I think one of the things that people struggle with most is fear. How do we combat that giant of fear?

Dr. David Jeremiah: People asked me was I afraid during this time. Absolutely. First of all, I was afraid when I didn't know what it was, you know, it could have been anything, and still a lot of questions. All of the stories of the Bible that tell you that, you know, "Fear not, for I am with you; be not afraid for, I am your God," all of those scriptures so wonderful.

Sheila Walsh: I always love the fact that it's, "Fear not, for I am with you," it's not, "Fear not, because there's nothing to be afraid of," it's because God is with us.

Dr. David Jeremiah: And you know, the absence of fear is not courage, it's love, and that's a really interesting expression, you know, you're not filled with fear, but with love and a strong mind. And so love means you reach out to other people. In the midst of your being afraid, you know there are others who are afraid and you reach out to them, and that's kind of one of the reasons why I think preaching has been such a great therapy for me. I told somebody the other day, I said, "When you're a pastor and you're a public figure, and you're doing good, people listen to you. When you're doing bad, they watch you".

Sheila Walsh: That's very true.

Dr. David Jeremiah: And so I'm doing more by what I'm doing and people watching me than if I were talking about it all the time.

Sheila Walsh: What about discouragement, did you face discouragement in this journey?

Dr. David Jeremiah: Yeah, and I'm gonna confess that. Of all the things that can get to me, that's one that has a little bit more of an upper hand than some others. What I've realized, Sheila, is every day is a challenge for me, and there's some good things and some hard things, and I try to do my best to meet the challenges of the day, sleep at night and take the next day. And realize, I was just telling Donna this today, you don't get to do just the things you feel like doing, you have to do the things that need to be done.

Sheila Walsh: That's a good lesson for every single one of us.

Dr. David Jeremiah: It is indeed.

Sheila Walsh: Yeah. One of the things that Barry and I prayed for you and for Donna was this area of worry, because I thought, I know Donna has to be worried about you, and knowing you, I know you have to be worried about Donna. How did you deal with that?

Dr. David Jeremiah: You know, I gotta tell you, she's one of the most incredible people.

Sheila Walsh: She is.

Dr. David Jeremiah: I'll be honest with you, I've never met anybody like her. She takes care of me, and I constantly am saying, "Honey, I wish you didn't have to do that," and she keeps telling me it's a privilege. She said, "You took care of me when I was sick, now it's my turn, and you need to let me do this". I don't think we worry a lot about each other, now, we just help each other the best we can. We are going through this like we have done everything in our life, we're going through it together.

Sheila Walsh: What a beautiful example of 60 years of marriage, committed, one to the other, it's beautiful. I love the words you assigned to worry, I read this and I thought, "Yeah, this is good, worry is inconsistent, irrational, ineffective, illogical and irreligious". Why is that perspective so important?

Dr. David Jeremiah: I can't get over how important it is to learn how to live each day unto itself. I remember reading a book about living in day-tight compartments. If we borrow trouble from the past, it just adds to what's going on in the present. And if we worry about, like, "What happens if I don't get over this," well, that could possibly take place, but it's not happening today. Today I got a job to do and some things I need to take care of, I'm not gonna let worry destroy my life and I'm not gonna be defined by my physical situation, you can't let that happen.

Sheila Walsh: I love the promise that his mercies are new every day.

Dr. David Jeremiah: Every day, every day, yes, right.

Sheila Walsh: And the way you sum up in the book, you say that there's six words of wisdom for worriers, this is good, you will love this, "Worry about nothing and pray about everything".

Dr. David Jeremiah: Yeah, that's Philippians where he says, you know, "In everything by prayer and supplication... let your request be made known unto God". If you do that, so, what are you worried about? You know, God understands and he knows. Now, do we ever have fleeting moments of worry? We might like to clean that up and say it's concern. Yeah, we do, it's not wrong to have those moments, but what it is wrong to do is to live in those moments, because if you do that, it'll ruin your life.

Sheila Walsh: One of the great lines in that hymn, "Amazing Grace," that John Newton wrote, "Through many dangerous toils and snares I have already come". It's interesting that the doubts and the snares are in the same hymn about grace. How do we find the grace of God in the midst of those?

Dr. David Jeremiah: You know, I remember years ago, somebody said about being a preacher, "God can never greatly use a man until he crushes him". And I actually prayed that day, "Lord, I wanna be greatly used, but I don't wanna be crushed," and I didn't hear any verbal answer from the Lord, but I knew in my heart that I'd asked something that was impossible. If you just stop and think about it, you know a lot of Christian people, guys that God is using, I don't know any of them that haven't had a tough time sometime in their life. And I think it's important, when people listen to you as you speak and teach, that they know that you've been crushed. When people know you've been through something, they listen to you. The Bible says, "We comfort others with the comfort wherewith we ourselves have been comforted". And if we've never been through anything, we have really been robbed of one of the tools God gives us to strengthen other people. I got a letter from a lady about a month ago, she said, "I just found out I'm gonna have to walk with a cane for the rest of my life, and I've been crying and complaining about it. Then I saw you come across the platform with your walker and I felt so embarrassed, and I said, 'Lord, never again.'" So that's what happens.

Sheila Walsh: Where your scars are, there lies your authority.

Dr. David Jeremiah: That's right, here's another little statement I read. I don't know who this is from, it's not a Christian, believe it or not, I remember that. He said, "We are all broken, that's how the light gets in".

Sheila Walsh: Oh, yeah. What do you say to somebody who says, "Well, I'm glad the Lord has been with you in this, but I feel as if my prayers are not answered"? Are there such a thing as unanswered prayers?

Dr. David Jeremiah: There's a lot of things of un-prayed prayers.

Sheila Walsh: That's true.

Dr. David Jeremiah: What is it my friend Mark Batterson says, "God will not answer 100% of the prayers you don't pray". But there's no such thing as unanswered prayer, because there's more than one answer. Somebody once told me it's like this, "If you pray and you are wrong, God says, 'No.' If you pray and the timing's wrong, God says, 'Slow.' If you pray and you're not growing in faith, God says, 'Grow.' All those things being equal, and you pray, God says, 'Go.'" Isn't that interesting? There's four answers right there. So, you know, you say, "God hasn't answered my prayer". Well, if he hasn't done what you want him to do, he's answering your prayer and he has reasons for that which we will never understand. And let's be honest, there are some imponderable things, only eternity will reveal those questions.

Sheila Walsh: You talk in the book about the gift of perseverance, most people don't think of perseverance as a gift.

Dr. David Jeremiah: I would probably use the word determination, perseverance, staying with it. You know, we always quit too soon, there's a statistic that when you think you have exercised to the limit of your ability to exercise, you still have 60% left.

Sheila Walsh: Oh wow.

Dr. David Jeremiah: And I haven't tested that, but the issue there in the physical realm is the same in the spiritual realm. We say, "Lord, we can't take any more". Well, yes, you can, you can bear up under a lot more than you think you can with the strength of God. And I think, here, I've been doing this now for 55 years, I've been preaching, I never think about not doing it. People keep asking me, "When are you gonna quit"? I don't think about that, I think about what we're teaching next week, and how we go forward and teach that. And God has given me a great sense of determination. You know, if you're in front of people like we are and it's live on the internet, every week, you face a challenge. "What if I can't do this, what if I don't have the energy to do this"? But every day, you go forward to do what God has called you to do, you put your foot in the water and God shows you that he's strong enough. And I was just telling the guys yesterday, we have three services at Shadow Mountain, one on Saturday night at five o'clock, one at nine o'clock on Sunday morning, and one at 10:45. So, three services within a 24-hour period...

Sheila Walsh: And you preach all of them?

Dr. David Jeremiah: I preach all of them. And you would think that by the time I got to the third service, I would be dead meat. The interesting thing is, when I get to the third service, I feel greater strength than I felt in either of the first two, and I don't understand it, because there's no way to understand it, it's a God thing. He strengthens you to do what you determined to do in response of obedience, and that's wonderful.

Sheila Walsh: There's something you say that's kind of tucked into that, almost as, "What does God expect from us in adversity"? Because you could have just sat back and said, "You know what? I'm tired, I'm not ready". We have a role, too, don't we, in stepping into what God has called?

Dr. David Jeremiah: You know, I think I alluded to it earlier. When I was in the hospital, it suddenly dawned on me that the one thing God wanted me to be in that hospital was a man of God. So I talked to some of the nurses about their faith, I gave copies away of books that I had just written, I had a whole little stack of stuff that I was giving out to everybody. I wanted to be a man of God in the midst of that. What does God expect of us? He expects us to stay strong in the midst of adversity and not be affected by it so that we lose our testimony to the watching world. What have you got to offer people if the only thing you can do is show them that life is good and you can manage that? When life isn't so good, you gotta be able to manage that, and by the grace of God, you can do it, his grace is sufficient for every day.

Sheila Walsh: Thank you, Dr. Jeremiah. Stay tuned, as we continue to discuss what it means for us to keep the faith. We'll be right back.

Sheila Walsh: What about the idea that you can almost barter with God, "I'll do this for you if you do that for me"?

Dr. David Jeremiah: Well, you can do it, it doesn't work, you know, God doesn't bargain with us. We can make promises, and that's good, and the foxhole Christianity you're talking about is very popular, "Get me out of this hospital bed and I will serve you the rest of my life". One of the things I know that God knows is that we don't have very good memories, and we don't remember what we say and we don't often do what we say we're gonna do. So, take God at his word, you can make commitments to him, you can make a vow before the Lord, but make sure you keep your vow.

Sheila Walsh: Yeah. One of the things that I found really helpful in this book, you had five principles about having fortitude during times of trouble. So, principle number one is this, I found this fascinating, "Disruptive moments are often divine appointments".

Dr. David Jeremiah: Yeah, that's true. Sheila, I'm gonna ask you a question, I want to be the interviewer for a minute. Have you learned more through your good times or your bad times?

Sheila Walsh: Bad times.

Dr. David Jeremiah: Absolutely, I don't know anybody that would say otherwise, prosperity is not a good teacher, but adversity is a great teacher. I've learned so much when I had cancer, I've learned so much with the other issues I've had in my life, I don't like them. Here's the deal, I don't even get to vote on them, you know? They come, God sends them. I like to say a little prayer, "Lord, help me to understand and learn what you want me to learn, so I don't have to ever refresher course". But you have to understand that when adversity comes, it's not an enemy, God is up to something. He may show you later on and he may not, but he's up to something.

Sheila Walsh: Your principle number two is this, "Progress without pain is usually not possible".

Dr. David Jeremiah: You know, that's true in the sports world too, no gain without pain, you know? You have to train your muscles with muscle memory, which is done in a gym where nobody's cheering and behind closed doors, and you're working hard, and I find myself even doing that now. One of the things my doctor told me was, "Make sure you stay strong in your upper body, get a trainer, and keep working". And is that fun? No. Do I wanna do that? No, but you can't let your body tell you what to do.

Sheila Walsh: The wisdom that you have gleaned and are gleaning from this season is just, it's priceless. I get to principle number three, "The promise of God is the provision of grace," so that's what we can count on.

Dr. David Jeremiah: What that means, really, to me is God hasn't promised us the full healing of our disease or the full answer to our question, but he's promised, as he did to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you," and it is, day by day. Don't get too far ahead of yourself, but his grace is sufficient for every day. If you don't learn how to conquer the moment, you can't conquer the day, and you go from obedience to obedience, from not letting your feelings tell you what to do, and you obey what you know to do. And the next time it comes, it's a little bit easier because you know the result of doing what you need to do is much better than sitting and arguing with yourself about why you don't wanna do it.

Sheila Walsh: It's quicker just to do it, yeah. Principle number four, "Disruptive moments produce dynamic growth". I believe you're seeing, and will continue to see that, in your preaching and writing and teaching, that the growth occurs in those painful places is significant.

Dr. David Jeremiah: Well, I've heard your story, Sheila, so I know that you believe that, personally, too. And so many of the people that I know who are doing what I do, they have their stories and the things that have happened to them, and how God used the hard places to prepare them for the good places. Unfortunately, most of us, we want the one without the other, but as in that chapter you're quoting, there is no such thing, at least, if it is, I've not seen it, it's a very rare thing.

Sheila Walsh: Final principle, principle five, "What we receive from disruptive moments," mm, interesting, "Depends on how we respond".

Dr. David Jeremiah: We don't get to choose the things that happened to us, we do get to choose how we respond to the things that happen to us, and that's a lesson that gets seared into your soul when you go through something like this. You know, I've had people ask me, we started this interview, "Why did this happen, how did it happen"? I don't know, I've talked to some of the smartest doctors in Southern California, they don't know, they don't even know very much about this disease or what causes it or how it happens. I can't do anything about that, but what I can do is say, "Okay, I got this thing and I'm gonna deal with it the best I know how, every day, with all my heart, getting better as I can, doing what they tell me to do. And stay out of the weeds of why did it happen and who's after me, and is God upset with me or is the devil mad at me"? You know, all that stuff that people go through. Look, I got a disease, I gotta get up tomorrow and get my clothes on and go face it.

Sheila Walsh: There's not a single person on this planet who loves you, and has been blessed and touched by your ministry, who would have wished this upon you. But I believe there's not a single one of us who will not be touched by how you have responded in this situation, and the way you've shown us a shining example of, "You know what? You can keep the faith even in the most difficult moments". Dr. Jeremiah, on behalf of your worldwide family, thank you.

Dr. David Jeremiah: You're welcome.
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